Hit-and-run case law in India

Hit and run case law in India

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In India, hit-and-run accidents are becoming more common. In layman’s terms, a hit-and-run accident occurs when an individual hits another vehicle while driving and flees away from the scene. A driver’s criminal and civil responsibility is to report a road mishap involving their vehicle. As hit-and-run accidents become more common in India, it is crucial to comprehend the Motor Vehicles Act, which 52discusses the laws that apply to anyone involved in a hit-and-run accident.

Hit and Run incidents occur when drivers cause harm to another person’s life, health, or property while driving recklessly and then fail to register their vehicle and driving licence with the appropriate legal authorities. In layman’s terms, hit and run is when you hit something or someone while driving and then flee. Due to a lack of evidence and witnesses, identifying and punishing the offenders becomes extremely difficult. However, the law has convicted them on numerous occasions.

Hit-and-run case law  Definition

Section 161 of the Motor Vehicles Act defines hit-and-run as “an accident arising out of the use of a motor vehicle(s) the identity of which cannot be ascertained despite reasonable efforts for the purpose.”

Hit and Run  cases statistics

In India, more than 20,000 people were killed in hit-and-run accidents.

According to data from the road transport ministry, hit-and-run accidents accounted for 11.4% of all collisions in 2015, an increase from 10.9% in 2014. In a survey, they discovered that approximately 74% of respondents were unwilling to assist victims of road accidents.

Punishment in a hit-and-run case

The Motor Vehicles Act of 1988 contains provisions that severely penalise those who cause hit-and-run accidents.

Victims of hit-and-run accidents are subject to IPC sections 279, 304A, and 338.

Anyone who recklessly drives a vehicle on a public road may be charged with violating Sec 279. For reckless driving or injuring another person on the road, a driver can face 6 months in prison, a Rs 1000 fine, or both. Sec 279 offences are bailable and are cognizable by the district magistrate.

The crime is reported under Section 304A if a driver who is not under the influence of alcohol causes the death of another person in an accident. The rider faces a year in prison, which can be extended to two years, a fine of more than Rs 1000, or both. 304A is a non-bailable offence with a life sentence if convicted.

In exceptional circumstances, the police may also file a hit-and-run case under Section 302, which is connected to the murder. A driver arrested in accordance with Section 302 may face a death sentence or a life sentence.

When minors are engaged in such incidents, the law sentences the parents of the minor to three years in prison as well as hefty fines.

Through a notification dated February 25, 2022, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways published the scheme for compensating victims of hit-and-run motor vehicle accidents.

The Motor Vehicles Act, passed in 1988, is a form of social legislation & its provisions are intended to safeguard the legal rights of people injured in traffic accidents when it is impossible to identify the motor vehicle that caused the collision. The pertinent legal provision is contained in Section 161 of the Motor Vehicles Act, which defines a “hit and runs motor accident” as an accident resulting from the usage of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle whose identification cannot be determined despite reasonable efforts for that purpose.

The rise in compensation for hit-and-run victims under Section 161 of the Act is shown in the table below:

circumstancesOld compensationNew compensation
Death of the victim  Rs. 25000  Rs. 200000  
Bodily Injury of the victim    Rs. 12500Rs. 50000  

Legal duties are also included in hit-and-run cases in addition to civil responsibilities. The legal repercussions of a hit-and-run incident may include the cancellation of a driver’s licence in addition to severe penalties and jail sentences. If an animal is engaged in a hit-and-run incident, the sanctions are slightly higher.

Motor Vehicle Accident Fund

The Motor Vehicle Accident Fund was first established under Section 164B of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act of 1988. The fund aims to provide urgent financial assistance to vehicle accident victims, including hit-and-run victims. The amount received from the fund will be subtracted from any compensation provided to the victims by the Tribunal.

Conclusion

After the iconic Salman Khan case in 2002, more Indians are now aware of hit-and-run incidents. He was charged with driving his vehicle onto the footpath and into a group of homeless persons. One of them had passed away. Over the years, there have been numerous hit-and-run incidents that received significant media attention. Moreover, there were several that were overlooked.

Rash driving, on-road racing, and drinking and driving are the main causes of these incidents. The victims—whether they are alive or dead—are left to suffer whereas the offenders roam free. 

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